On this episode of the Riton Podcast, we talk with Hero Hunt Founder and CEO Joe Towers about his non-profit, law enforcement career and family.
Brady Speth 0:08
Welcome everybody to the Riton Podcast. Special guest here today, Joe Towers, 27 year law enforcement veteran. And kind of where we got to know him a little bit is through Hero Hunt, the foundation, an organization he started, he’s CEO and founder of Hero Hunt. So welcome Joe towers to the podcast.
Joe Towers 0:30
Thank you. And thank you for having me.
Brady Speth 0:33
We’ve been working with you guys now for for Geez. A couple years. At least.
Joe Towers 0:38
Yeah. going on. We’re well under three years. Yeah.
Brady Speth 0:41
Time flies. We’ve had a chance to hunt a little bit with Joe, hopefully get a chance to hunt some turkey here pretty soon.
Joe Towers 0:49
And like that’s gonna happen about that this weekend.
Brady Speth 0:53
Good. I was kind of leading into that one. Like, Hint, Hint, wink, wink. So yeah, the, we’ve had a lot of fun times, Joe’s, what he’s done with Hero Hunt has been amazing. And I love it. And so we’re 100% behind anything that is kind of down that path of helping veterans helping military law enforcement. Just getting people out and getting them to have fun and go hunting and kind of have that camaraderie of being out there and getting to shoot the shit. And that’s what he does. So why don’t why don’t you dig in a little bit. I’ll stop talking. And you could take over and tell us a little bit about Hero Hunt how you found it and kind of what that what the core principles are.
Joe Towers 1:32
Okay, I appreciate it. We started in 2012. I’m a veteran. I was in the Coast Guard for four years, I did eight and the reserves, started my law enforcement career in 94. come from a long line of law enforcement, third generation. incredibly long family history with the military and a bunch of veterans in our family. My wife was a police officer got injured in the line of duty in 2010 had to take her pension due to those injuries at ’11. And I’ve always had a desire to put something back, you know, leave stuff better than you found it.
Brady Speth 2:04
Joe Towers 2:05
I see a lot of these guys and girls, they get prematurely taken away from their everyday the camaraderie of what we do and how we get it done. And, you know, just the Brotherhood Sisterhood of law enforcement and military. And especially like, if you’ve ever been around a fire hall, you know, the camaraderie I’m talking about. So we got fortunate enough, in 2012. We bought it about bought a farm just a little bit north of Nashville, like 20 minutes north of Nashville, small place like 50, little over 50 acres, and was down trying to get to the other property a little bit. And I was like, really happy I had my own place. I don’t have to worry about, you know, leases and moving stands and people coming in on your place or whatever. And I was like, nope, this is all me, this is for myself, my brother, who’s also a police officer. And you know, it’s a family place to kind of go. Ya know, we’re live on the property. And I got down in the work in the field a little bit kind of bush hog is trying to get a feel for the place. And it just kind of hit me that, you know, I never thought I’d have anything like that. And we needed to share it. So we started that November, we hosted the first three day hunt. We did three, three day hunts November and December total. So we had generally have three to four injured vets or firefighters, first responders, it’s just a hodgepodge of, of that community. So we hosted it from our house. We self funded everything for the first year, actually the first three years and really didn’t have an intention on starting a nonprofit at the time. I did find out though that we were the first law enforcement first responder, injured veteran, nonprofit that did what we do, which was initially designed just to get some folks back in the mix of things in life and getting back album, the trigger and sitting around a campfire at night and just kind of get back into that brotherhood, the ultimate goal was to keep these folks from going into dark places and thinking nobody cares and kind of bring it back to what we do. So I’m down riding around the farm trying to you know, get a feel for the thing, and it just popped in my head, you know, we really need to take advantage of a blessing and pass it on to some other folks. So we started sit at the table on Father’s Day of 2012. And I pitched it to my wife a little boy was it was a year old. And she said, Well let me get the Shrike so we’re gonna have a bunch of people who don’t know come to our house and hang out in our house with our you know, one year old. And we’re gonna do this and we’re gonna have people come in and help us cook and it’s natural. So we’ve always got live entertainment for the guys and girls and right and I said, yeah, that’s pretty much the idea. She looked at me kinda for a second. She said, I’m down with that. So we started and then when we started trying to get some stuff donated like water or hamburgers or whatever everybody wanted your, your EIN number, your 501c-3 number and I’m like, what’s that? We filed for it in, I guess, October of ’12. Got our nonprofit status official status in April of ’13. So we’ve been at it for a minute. I guess going into our ninth year now. Last year alone, we did 37 events with over 200. injured police fired military. And like five states, Tennessee, we had Tennessee, Texas. Actually two in Texas, one with you guys out in Sierra Blanca on the Barbary sheep hunt, which was absolutely freaking amazing. By the way.
Brady Speth 5:37
Joe Towers 5:38
fishing trips, captains down in Florida. We got into the deep sea, offshore stuff. We realized about really, at the end of the first year, this deer season is this long, and the need for these folks is this long, right. And that’s kind of my passion hunting and fishing and stuff I grew up with. That’s all I mean, that’s all we did. You know, in between work and everything. And that was kind of my passion. And it was that was kind of the the excuse to pull everybody together. Like one of our one of our mottos is, it’s not about the hunt, it’s about healing. So, yeah, we just, we just took off and started rolling. We’ve got now we’ve got 21 ambassadors, the other guys or girls that come in there that have a foundation for the outdoors, and they have a drive and a love for what we do. Once we know that really get it. So at some point, we offer after two or three trips in ambassadorship to the program. So again, it gets them to get on more events, to represent what we do, they know how the events need to run all the safety stops that are in place as far as you know, we check safety harnesses, and you know, gun safety, all the stuff that goes into that. And then they end up running the hunt. I’m still a full time police officer, so I get, you know, so many days a year. And it just helps us keep that ball rolling and get more people involved. And none of us get paid everybody’s volunteer staff, we got six board, six board members, and it’s just a it’s a passion, man. It’s just a complete passion.
Brady Speth 7:11
Man I don’t know where to start. The The biggest thing for me and I think you touched on it is the ability to just kind of have that camaraderie like I grew up hunting. I grew up in Montana. I had it in my backyard. I kind of always was hunting something squirrels,
Joe Towers 7:26
Brady Speth 7:26
ducks, geese, deer, elk, you name it. And so for me anymore, it’s not about hunting, even the hunt, you referenced going out to Texas, like I didn’t even hunt when we were out there. It’s it’s part of just being there. And I love kind of that camaraderie. I love the ability to just get people together. And you kind of touched on something that I think is huge, and a lot of people kind of don’t understand is it’s just that fact of getting together. It’s deer season, it’s you just did a duck hunt. It’s you know, deep saltwater fishing, whatever it may be. A lot of people just kind of need that, that it pulls you through dark times, it brings you in realizes that there’s people there that want to take care of you and and I think that’s the big thing that I really love about Hero Hunt events that you’re doing is it gives that people gives you something to look forward to. And then months afterwards, you’re still thinking about it and loving it. And it’s I think something that you told me it’s amazing how many people go through it as somebody that is a hunter and then all sudden they want to be part of an ambassador, they want to be part of putting on the events after that.
Joe Towers 8:25
It’s been it’s been amazing. We branched out like I said, for the turkey. We went from deer hunts to adding turkey hunts to adding fishing tournaments, you know, freshwater bass and stuff like that to dub wants to. We’re starting to get into some coyote stuff here. We do thermal nightvision hunts down in Texas and Georgia and on the pigs and predators. It’s just, man, it’s just, you know, the feedback that you get. We got a letter from one of the guys, one of the guys wives didn’t know he, she had signed him up. Just sitting at home. not really doing anything. He took a pretty hard hit in Afghanistan, took a took an RPG to the leg. It came into the vehicle, he was outside the vehicle and, and he just wasn’t doing a lot when he got out. And she, she nominated him we did all that we’ll go through a small vetting process to you know, you got to make sure everything’s where it needs to be and right. He came out to an event. And he was just like frickin love this man. And he’s now after three years of working on this. He’s our lead Ambassador soand he’s just an amazing guy. 22-23 year Army veteran. We’ve gotten a letter recently, this past season from one of the guys wives that said, you know, we were in a really bad place. He was in a bad place. Marriage wasn’t going like it should. The parenting skills were they were kind of in that self absorbed dark place. And yeah. And she said, I don’t know what you guys did in four days, but he came home. He was a different person. Everything in the marriage is on the way up and the reconnecting with the kids. And you know that that’s when you know you’re doing something.
Brady Speth 10:07
Yeah. I mean, that’s right there. Yeah.
Joe Towers 10:10
So, and that’s why we do it. That and just the fact like, we like you mentioned, we just came back, I literally pulled it from Arkansas, like two hours ago. And we had, we had two, retired Army medically retired Army. And we had two police officers both injured in the line of duty, one of them had been shot multiple times in the line of duty. And when you just get away from the circle of the table, you know, where by sitting there telling stories and you know how to use wood cutting up and you’re like, you remember that time and, and when you just step back from it, look at the smiles and like all that all that stress of the of the grind and the things that aren’t going right, that’s all gone. And they’re just sitting there smiling, they wake up at 5am or 430 to walk into kitchen, and they’re not rub their eyes and turn to like, what are we going to do? And they’re all smiling, right? Oh, yeah, it’s restorative man. It’s just awesome. Yeah.
Brady Speth 11:03
So events, it’s kind of sounds like this is a full time job for you. So one kind of events. I think the clock’s ticking on on your law enforcement career if I’m not mistaken. So that countdown yet the
Joe Towers 11:18
I have it on my phone, I can tell you to the second.
Brady Speth 11:21
The I know that this is a huge undertaking, man. I mean, props and kudos to you and your wife, especially for her not batin’ and I and for you guys, I know what it’s like kind of bootstrapping something from the from the ground up. And for you guys to do something that really isn’t a profitable thing for you guys. A lot of people start a business out of their garage, they do this, they do that. But to start something like this of like, you know what, we have the property, we have the desire, let’s figure it out. And the rest will take care of itself that that’s something that’s always struck me is huge on you guys getting started?
Joe Towers 11:52
Well, we’ve definitely had our times where we go, do we host an event? Or do we send the water bill, the electric department or the water bill to electric and electric to water. And it’s, you know, we’ve had several times that this is this is honest to god True story. We have a Sam’s warehouse here, it’s kind of like Costco, I’m sure they got him everywhere now. And they made a donation, one spring. And I remember I was at the time, I was working on a lot of overtime, and homicides and stuff in our agency and just dead tired. We had an event starting on a Friday night and it’s like Thursday afternoon after work. And I’m pushing the cart. Through Sam’s, I’m like, you know, my little boy was very small, or like two, three at the time, like a second year, maybe third year. And I’m like, you know what I said this is this is hard. This is this is taxing it’s time away from the family. It’s it’s, as I’m tired. And my wife said we’ll just pray about it. Sorry, it gets a little emotional. But so I you know, I do my little under my breath. You know, this is where I’m supposed to be, you know, when we get to the checkout counter, at Sam’s, and they’ve got this huge, you know, the front wall there. Right? They had taken the logo, I didn’t know about it. My wife had talked to them, but at some point they took the logo from Hero Hunt. And then I have these probably 3×4 placards, and it’s you know, it’s not about what you gather, it’s about what you spread. And then our logos up there with about six or eight other company logos they had donated, you know, stuff to and supplies or money or whatever to and I’m like, Roger that. Yeah, message receive. We just keep on chugging. Yeah. Never never looked back after that. Yeah. So what? What’s that? You hear? Are you picking that up? On the other hand, I apologize for background noise.
Brady Speth 13:49
Now we’re good. Okay, yeah, we’ll get we can edit that out later. Um, so jumping back in what what’s upcoming what what do you have kind of this year. what’s planned? kind of give us a look of what what a year in the life of trying to be a police officer and running a charity like this is like?
Joe Towers 14:08
Joseph Towers 15:08
Hi, Mr. Brady.
Joe Towers 14:09
So right now. Like I said, Thank God, I’ve got some some solid people on board and we’re gonna we’re actually had not planned. A couple of events that we’ve got coming up we have we just come off the duckh hunt. We’re wound up sending some people. We got some guys going next week to Alabama, their deer deer season runs longer. They’re gonna be on a deer hunt down there. It’s just one of those things that popped up. So we’ve got a couple ambassadors in Alabama, like if we said you guys, four guys, can you make sure they get their safe and everything’s handled. like we got it. We’re good. Perfect. So we got a deer hunt coming up in Alabama. Offshore fishing trip popped up with a couple guys. We weren’t down there. So we’re sending four or five guys down into weeks to Apalachicola, Florida. Thanks to Tim Peterson. That guy’s just been amazing. He’s amazing. He’s an Air Force veteran as well. And just a just a really good dude. Hey, you got one second. Can we do this? Yeah. Remember? You probably can’t hear him. Say hi to Mr. Brady.
Brady Speth 15:09
Hi, Mr. Brady.
Hi, buddy. At the boss got the video?
Joe Towers 15:14
Yeah, man. This is the Josef’s, our Director of Marketing. He he handled all the heavy stuff, but I can’t.
Brady Speth 15:21
Hi Joseph, welcome. Welcome to the podcast, buddy.
Joe Towers 15:24
Can you hear him?
Brady Speth 15:28
There you go. You got me?
Joseph Towers 15:30
Brady Speth 15:30
Perfect. I said, welcome to the podcast. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself? And how you keep your dad in line there.
Joe Towers 15:38
You said tell us a little bit about yourself.
Joseph Towers 15:41
Well, I went to school today. And I just got home. I haven’t seen dad for four days.
Brady Speth 15:55
I promise we’ll be quick with them so you guys can hang out.
Joe Towers 16:00
Let me knock this out. Say good-bye Mr. Brady.
Good-Bye Mr. Brady.
Brady Speth 16:03
Bye Bud. Thanks for hopping on. I love it.
Joe Towers 16:08
They just they just rolled in.
Brady Speth 16:10
I love it.
Joe Towers 16:11
So yeah, we did that. We got this Apalachicola trip coming in. And we’ve got a pheasant hunt that got put together. jack daniels is starting to do some sponsorship stuff for us. And they put together just an amazing pheasant hunt. Just about an hour south of Nashville. So we’ve got 6 going on that the first week of February. And it looks like right now we’re gonna probably end up with about. So last year, we had 48 events planned. Even with COVID, we still ended up with 37 events. This year, we’re looking at probably 42 to 45 events.
Brady Speth 16:49
Joe Towers 16:49
So there’s not but 52 weeks in a year. That tells you how much work we’ve actually had two and three events going in different states at the same time.
Brady Speth 16:57
That’s awesome that they were the ambassadors and having people you trust to be able to step up and and take those so you’re not running from state to state to state trying to make this happen.
Joe Towers 17:06
Yeah, I can tell you for a fact we had. We partnered with Tennessee wildlife resources here in Nashville, they host a lot of events for us as far as you know, some of the deer hunts and stuff like that some of the turkey hunts. I literally would leave work after work Friday night, drive to West Tennessee, you know, two hours away, get there Friday night receive everybody make sure everything’s ready. Hunt Friday, Saturday, Sunday, get home Sunday night, go to work on Monday, leave work on Monday, go to East Tennessee, and do the same thing for a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. So definitely a blessing to have the folks that that are on board to help us make it come together.
Brady Speth 17:40
I love it. Now I love what you’re doing. And honestly, I can’t say this enough. There’s literally no no better person on earth than you, Joe, the kindness you have and the true passion that you have for this stuff. Being veteran military and law enforcement just like you like it says a lot that you guys are willing to do this. And I know the sacrifice of away from family away from kids and you know, life and everything you have going on. So I truly appreciate it. And thank you for letting us be a part of, of hero hunt and helping out. So I tried you guys.
Joe Towers 18:11
I know what we talked about before. But I’m gonna tell you now. I mean, when we met. Again, I think there’s some divine intervention in life. I was actually walking through, I believe it was NRA in Dallas. And I’m like, looking at some new products and you know how the NRA goes looking at all this new stuff. I’m like, Man, that looks pretty cool. And here, your whole setup the whole display you had there? Yeah, what it was looking at some scopes. really impressed. And then one of the ladies that works for us, like, hey, do you want to sign up for this? You know, and I signed up and ended up winning a scope, ended up talking to Calley and some other folks there. And that’s kind of where this whole thing this whole relationship started was just, I mean, out of all the play all the booths, all the displays all the everybody there, and I wound up standing in, you know, in the Riton booth. And it just, I mean, it just was like, you know, everything starts with a conversation, right? You guys have been amazing. You’ve helped us so much in the last a little over three years that you know it, that kind of to start something at home, and never really expect to get bigger than it was or never really intended to and then have a company like Riton, just step in and go hey, we’re here to help. Man, that’s very humbling to me.
Brady Speth 19:25
Now, I really appreciate that opportunity. So I absolutely appreciate the opportunity. So the salt of the earth type person and organization and all the people around you we had such a blast, we did a hunting trip. It’s been what, three or four months out in Texas and literally that didn’t stop laughing for four days straight. I know everybody had an amazing time. So let’s do this. Then real quick. I want you to actually have some time with your family. So tell me how or tell everybody listening. How do you nominate someone if you think you someone in your life. And you want to try to nominate them for one of these hunts. What is that process kind of goes through that real quick.
Joe Towers 20:05
it’s it’s real simple. You know, the, for the police, fire, military first responders, they don’t have to have this catastrophic injury. That was something that, that I want to make that very clear when we started this, you know, some, some groups, it has to be some kind of catastrophic, situation, with us, you know, there’s only what’s the average 2% that serve in the military, and much less than that to serve as a first responder. So, you know, car accidents happen, PTSD incident, you know, people end up with PTSD from the things they see, do, hear, and, and all that. So, if they have a line of duty related injury, all we do is is verify the injury. For the military guys, we get a DD 214, copy the VA rating letter. They don’t have to, we don’t want to, we don’t want the Social Security, the sensitive information, we just want to vet and verify. And then with law enforcement is fairly easy. Believe it or not, it’s a huge, it’s a huge family. But you know, there’s always somebody you know, and they and they send the request and stuff. Just maybe it was an office report or just something to document that injury for us.
Brady Speth 21:09
So where do they where do they sent it to website, email,
Joe Towers 21:14
on our website at herohuntinc.org, And there’s a whole section in there about how to apply, fill out the information and send it they can also reach us, message us on Instagram, Facebook, and our website. That’s just the easiest way. It’s a really smooth process. It doesn’t take very long and we placed them into a roster and then go from there.
Brady Speth 21:34
Perfect. Volunteers. What if someone wants to donate someone wants to help out? Someone wants to volunteer kind of the same process? Reach out on the website, or what would you recommend?
Joe Towers 21:45
Absolutely. Same thing, hit the website. Right now I do the social media finance, blah, blah, blah. So if they say something to the social media, like the Instagram and Facebook stuff, it comes to me. So the big things are that if you are a landowner or if you’re an outfitter or something like that, and you want to get involved, we’d love to talk to you. We’re insured we’ve got an attorney that volunteer some time we’ve got liability release labor. So relieves a lot of that anxious for some people have, rightfully so. That in that in the finances is what keeps it going. So yeah, that’s the easiest way to do it. Just hit the website. And what a social media platform perfect.
Brady Speth 22:25
Yeah, and please, I will encourage anybody, anything helps what Joe and his team at Hero Hunt are doing, anything helps to help them continue to do this and continue to get vets out and military law enforcement. I can attest firsthand of the good that it does. So please, if anybody if you guys are looking to help, please don’t hesitate. Anything else you would like to say? And then I got one more one little fun thing, and we’ll let you go spend some time.
Joe Towers 22:51
Okay. Yeah, no, it’s, it’s all good. So that’s something else too. A lot of people when they when they nominate a family member or they they sign up themselves? Well, what’s the cost? You know, how much is it going to cost me? It cost a little more than our time we take care of if it’s more than an eight hour drive. We we get them here. or wherever the events that we take care of the if it’s a hunting or hunting event, we take care of fishing licenses, shotguns, ammunition, guides, food, lodging, we handle everything for ’em. It’s just that they have a time investment. Really? That’s it? Yeah. So that’s the big thing, too. It’s, it’s at no cost to them.
Brady Speth 23:29
Perfect. Yeah, I love that. So all right. Well, here’s the fun part. What we do kind of close up some of these podcasts. I get to ask you some rapid fire questions and then and we got to see what kind of what kind of answers are going on and you got to first thing that comes to mind you don’t get to think about it. You just got to give me an answer. If you had one superpower, what would it be?
Joe Towers 23:54
Brady Speth 23:56
I like that one. If you could have a beer with anyone. past present alive dead? Who would it be?
Joe Towers 24:06
Probably. Doc holiday.
Brady Speth 24:10
Oh, yeah, that’s a good one. Like that. If you were stuck eating one food for the rest of your life, what are you picking
Joe Towers 24:18
steak all day long.
Brady Speth 24:22
If you wrote a biography, what would the title of your biography be?
Joe Towers 24:26
This hot mess.
Brady Speth 24:29
That’s pretty good. I like that. First thing you would do if I handed you a million dollars cash? What are you gonna buy?
Joe Towers 24:39
I would probably fund a lot more events.
Brady Speth 24:41
love it. I knew you’re gonna answer that one. See that right there kind of text character. No cars, no fancy anything. Let’s just have a hero hunt event every weekend for the for as long as we could have them.
Joe Towers 24:51
That’d be perfect.
Brady Speth 24:53
I love it. Joe. Well, thank you for your time. I’ll let you go spend some time with your family. I know you’re busy. Thank you for your service to military law enforcement. I know your community out there in Nashville is appreciative of everything you’ve done over the last 27 years. So thank you for that. And honestly a huge shout out to your family to your wife for putting up with you and your job putting up with your time. I know what it’s like being away so make sure you thank her for us and, and thank you for me and our team here at Riton for let us be a part of what you guys are doing. We appreciate that.
Joe Towers 25:22
Really appreciate the support. Thank you for your service. And, you know, stuff like this. It makes it go around.
Brady Speth 25:29
Yes, sir. So hero herohuntinc.org. Get on there. If you want to nominate somebody get on there if you want to volunteer if anything helps to, to donate or any time, money, anything like that. So please check out what Joe and his team are doing over here. And we will talk to you guys next time. Appreciate it. Joe.
Joe Towers 25:47
Right, buddy. Brady.
Brady Speth 25:49
I will talk to you soon. Thank you, sir.
Riton Optics 25:59
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